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Now That's A Big Moth

All manner of lovelies are showing up on our Flickr site right now. Bright orange lanterns, tight-fisted aquatics, check it out.

But let's start the week thinking big. Really big. Introducing the Atlas moth, Attacus atlas, as seen by our own Andy Carvin (you might remember his stellar pix of passiflora last year). Andy grabbed this stunning shot at "Wings of Fancy", the live butterfly exhibit now on for another two weeks at Brookside Gardens outside D.C.

mature Atlas moth

In terms of total wing surface area, Atlas moths are considered the largest in the world. Andy figures that each wing was bigger has his man-sized hand. photo credit: Andy Carvin, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption photo credit: Andy Carvin, NPR

Everything I know about Attacus comes from Wikipedia, so feel free to dissent. Among the more compelling things I read concerned the moth's sexual differences and mating behavior:

Females are sexually passive, releasing powerful pheromones which males detect and home in on with the help of chemoreceptors located on their large feathery antennae. Males may thus be attracted from several kilometres downwind. Atlas moths are unsteady fliers and the female does not stray far from the location of her discarded chrysalis: she seeks a perch where the air currents will best carry her pheromones.

emerging Atlas moth

Since you know how the story ends, I figure you'd like to see how it begins. Thanks to Sachin Palkar for this photo. photo credit: Sachin Palkar hide caption

itoggle caption photo credit: Sachin Palkar

Stay tuned for tomorrow's Wild Kingdom when we re-visit the floating photographer Mary Edwards and the underwater world of spawning salmon...

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Take a look at Dr John Cody's watercolor work with moths. This man's accuracy and control of light have made him the Audubon of moths, if there is such a thing.

Sent by Dirt Nerd | 11:38 AM | 9-12-2008